Ship with 700 migrants safely towed to Greek coast

Officials say a broken-down smuggling ship carrying 700 men, women and children trying to emigrate to Europe has been safely towed to just off the southern Greek island of Crete.

Authorities there are preparing to provide the migrants with temporary shelter.

The 77-meter (250-foot) Baris cargo ship appeared off the coastal town of Ierapetra around sunrise Thursday, still attached by cable to a Greek navy frigate that has been towing it for a day and a half through gale-force winds.

The Baris lost engine power early Tuesday 70 nautical miles from Ierapetra. Its passengers include refugees from war-riven Syria and Afghanistan.

The ship is expected to anchor offshore, and the migrants will be ferried in small groups to Ierapetra where authorities have set up a reception center in an indoor basketball stadium.

“Our main concern is to offer them preliminary care, to register them and to find, as soon as possible, somewhere for them to stay under the best conditions possible,” said Red Cross volunteer organizer Nikos Nestorakis. [AP]

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